I don’t focus on the breath in my T’ai Chi practice. We were designed to breath automatically without having to think about it so why worry about all those exercises about the breath? While it may relax you momentarily it will not change the reason you have difficulty taking a deep breath in the first place. And it takes away your focus on what’s important. What keeps us from taking a deep fulfilling breath is excess tension in our bodies and holding our breath is a symptom of tightness in the muscles of the ribcage. The action of the ribs on the inhale is to louvre outward allowing the lungs to expand and on the exhale they return back to their resting place. The muscles of respiration are the internal intercostals and the external intercostals which pull the ribs to expand to inhale and the opposing muscles pull the ribs back to resting on the exhale. This is a simplified version of it for the sake of brevity and I hope you get the idea.

Forcing yourself to take a breath does not encourage the body to breathe on its own. In my practice I discovered that if I reminded myself to let go of the muscles in my ribcage and armpits (not just for shaving, btw!) it released the tension on my ribs engaging the breathing mechanism. I didn’t have to force a breath yet I drew in a nice long deep breath automatically. A quick note to say that when you relax the ribcage and muscles in your armpits, you release the tension from your shoulders allowing them to sit quietly on top of the ribcage. Now your arms can hang freely and your hands can soften.

Simple  exercise … while riding remind yourself to relax your psoas muscle, then let go of the ribcage. A gentle reminder now and then and the body will get the message. You will be surprised how quickly you remember to remember to relax then the breath comes naturally.  It just takes a little practice.

Enjoy your ride.